If you run any kind of business, you’ll know how important being able to accept payments is. Whether it be online or in person, getting paid is pretty much the biggest factor contributing to whether or not you make money or not. There are a few options out there for small businesses, mainly machines supplied by the banks – but these can be clunky and expensive. PayPal has its own payment processing machine, but many people choose to avoid PayPal (This is just one of MANY common problems) these days; especially creatives and artists.
Square is one of the ‘newer’ solutions that many small business owners are looking into. They have a huge range of features, which I won’t explain here because this great Square vs PayPal review already exists and I’d basically just be regurgitating that information here. The overall main key features that I’ve found in my own experience is managing inventory, payments, receipts and invoices. Cashless payments are becoming so popular these days, that if you aren’t accepting them, you’re probably missing out on a lot of business; so having an affordable (yet good quality) card-processing resource is a must!
As for features, Square can do basically everything that I need aside from running my business for me. I can keep track of my inventory, download analytics, create and manage a cash draw, sell stuff, and create and send invoices to clients. They also have other cool stuff, like managing employees, payroll and even suggest apps to help you manage your business! The Square dashboard is beautifully simple through all devices I’ve played around with it on (Tablet, phone, and computer), and is super fast from start-up to payment. No awkward standing there saying “hang on a second, it’s just booting up”, just a great service.
When it comes to the dashboard itself, it was a bit intimidating at first, mainly because I hadn’t looked at any tutorials or anything before selling for the first time (please don’t use this method, it’s stressful), but once I had made a couple of sales I felt like I knew the whole app. Square lets you set up 2 item grids, and I highly recommend using them to your advantage. Personally, I had the first one set up with my items, and the second with my discounts and promotions. This made it really easy to work during busy periods, as all I had to do was tap the screen a couple of times and was ready to be paid.
As for how I organised my item grids: I laid them out in a way that made sense for me. This is in no way the best or only method, feel free to experiment and find what feels right to you! I found it easiest to separate my products by size, and work my way down in size, having my stickers at the bottom. I do wish that the grid could be increased in size, but that’s a really minor issue in the scheme of things. Whatever items aren’t on the grid can easily be found in the ‘Items’ tab anyway, and being able to put them in their own categories is great! My second item grid has nothing but discounts and promotions. I felt that going into Items then down to Discounts took too long, so dedicating a whole grid to them was definitely the right move. You can probably lay out your grid in a much better way, but that’s where development comes in. You’re probably not going to have the best system in the world on your first go! (click the images below for larger view)
The only problem I really had with Square wasn’t even their fault. To create an account, they need to check your credit report. Turns out I didn’t have one. I fixed the problem and signed up. I contacted the Square support team about the issue, and they told me that they’re looking into ways to treat it as a case-by-case basis, so that younger people like myself can still access the system. The support team was lovely and quick to reply to my email, so another good thing going for Square.
Square is also pretty comparable to other POS services: they charge 1.9% of each card transaction, and 2.2% on invoices and manual card entry. These are only the Australian rates though, so it may be a bit different in your own country. You get $500 of free processing when you first sign up, and can earn more free processing through referrals too! In fact, you can use my referral link to earn both of us up to $1000 in free processing.
The readers themselves come in 2 main forms: The Contactless + Chip, and the Magnetic Stripe reader. You get both readers when you buy the Square Contactless + Chip Reader, and it’s only $59 here in Australia, and $49 in the US. In the US, you can get a free magnetic reader just by signing up, so that could be a good option for people who want to play around with Square before committing. The contactless reader is connected via bluetooth, and the magnetic via your device’s headphone jack. You just connect them and you’re good to go!
I really love Square so far, the ability to organise all my inventory right from my iPad is really handy, I’ve had no problems taking payments, and I don’t have to go through the pain of sitting down and manually working out my sales, stock, and profits. Plus, there’s the option to download your sales history – so that’s a huge timesaver too (and the tax office will like you)! I highly recommend Square to anyone who’s looking at taking payments in-person (and even online through the invoice feature). They have great rates, a beautifully crafted user experience, and readers that you really don’t have to do anything with other than connect them, which takes all of 10 seconds. My experience with Square has been really great so far, and I’ll be looking into swapping my invoicing over to Square (instead of PayPal) soon. With the experience that I’ve had so far, Square is definitely my pick, and I recommend it, especially to other creatives who fear the random PayPal money withholding that happens to artists quite often for some reason..
If you’re looking to accept payments, but don’t want to go through PayPal, Square is the way to go. I’d like to write more reviews like this one in the future. This one probably isn’t the best, but let me know what you thought about it – as well as your own experiences with Square!